Fishing Rating: Hot Good Fair Poor
Bear Canyon Lake – Rating:
The lake is steep, as well as deep. There is little shallow water, except at the upper end of the lake. Fish using small spinners and lures. If fishing off the bottom, avoid casting out too far where the water is very deep. Bait anglers should try fishing with a worm and bobber. Fly anglers using a float tube can find solitude, especially on weekdays. However, fly-fishing from shore or wading is difficult because the tree line comes right to the water’s edge, and the water gets deep close to shore. The lake is usually stocked once a month from April to September with rainbow trout.
Black Canyon Lake – Rating: N/A
THIS LAKE WAS CLOSED AS OF EARLY JUNE DUE TO US FOREST SERVICE FIRE RESTRICTION AREA CLOSURES. Check with Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest for updated access information. Expect closures to extend into monsoon season in late July.
Black Canyon Lake is 78 surface acres, with a maximum depth of 60 feet and an average depth of 35 feet. Like other Rim lakes, Black Canyon is deep, and low in nutrients. Catchable sized rainbow trout are stocked in the spring and early summer. The lake also currently contains illegally introduced green sunfish and largemouth bass; anglers are encouraged to catch and remove these species to help control their populations. There is no limit for bass and sunfish.
Fly fishing from a boat or float tube is a good way to catch large numbers of fish at this lake. Use prince nymphs, peacock ladies, hare’s ear nymphs or black, brown or green wooly buggers. You’ll get good surface bites in the evenings using dry flies. Trolling spinners early or late in the day would be a good way to go after some of the larger trout. Bait fishing is best with nightcrawlers off the bottom. Kids can do well catching green sunfish using small hooks and worms under a bobber. Try this technique from the shoreline wherever there are rocks or other cover, even during the warmer parts of the day.
Chevelon Lake – Rating:
Because of the difficult access, this lake is popular with float-tubers. Its deep canyon and well-forested edges make this lake a cool respite during the summer. Some lures to try are Kastmasters, Panther Martin spinners and Rapalas for stocked rainbows and wild brown trout. Fly-fishermen should try wooly buggers or wooly worms in black or brown colors, crayfish-colored patterns, and brown or black Simi Seal leeches, peacock ladies or other large streamers. The lake is stocked with fingerling trout in the spring and managed as a put-and-grow fishery. Spring 2018 population surveys showed brown trout averaging 16 inches! Lake levels are way down and launching boats will be difficult this summer. Chevelon Canyon Lake is a hike-in or ATV accessible lake only, with a two trout limit and artificial fly/lure only regulations.
Clear Creek Reservoir – Rating:
Rainbow trout are stocked once in April and once in May as a put-and-take fishery. Fishing is fair after stockings but can diminish as water warms beyond trout tolerance. Fishing for sunfish, catfish and carp remains good throughout the summer. Try small hooks with a worm and bobber near rocks and structure for sunfish. For bullhead and channel catfish, use bait on bottom such as worms and chicken livers, especially at night when catfish are most active.
Willow Springs Lake – Rating:
Lake levels are low this year, but boat launching is still good. When weather gets hot in the summer, fish between 10 and 20 feet down. There will be very few fish below 20 feet during the summer months because the oxygen levels go below what trout need to survive. Above 10 feet, the water temperatures get too warm for trout to thrive. Willow Springs is stocked with catchable rainbow trout weekly throughout the summer and tiger trout were stocked in May. Try Kastmasters, small Rapalas or Panther Martins for either species. Shore anglers fishing for trout can try nightcrawlers or PowerBait. Green sunfish and smallmouth bass were illegally introduced to this lake. Try a small hook with a worm under a bobber, even during the hotter parts of the day.
Woods Canyon Lake – Rating:
Just like at Willow Springs Lake, when it’s hot in the summer, fish a little deeper, between 10 and 20 feet. Don’t fish too deep because the lake stratifies, meaning there’s no oxygen at the bottom and is too warm for trout at the top. If fishing for trout from shore, try PowerBait or worms. Fly anglers may have luck on dry flies or small nymphs right at sunset. Boaters can try trolling a Super Duper or tiny gold Kastmaster lures. The lake is loaded with crayfish; try fishing for large trout with spinners or lures that imitate crayfish patterns. Fish for illegally stocked green sunfish along the rocky shore with nightcrawlers. The lake is stocked weekly throughout the summer with rainbow trout and during May with tiger trout. Store and boat rentals are open for the season!
Becker Lake – Rating:
The lake can only be fished with artificial flies and lures with a single barbless hook, catch and release trout only. Big rainbow and tiger trout lurk along the weed beds on the south end, but can be found in the middle of the lake by boat and float tube as well. Flies to try are midges, Prince nymphs, brown Montana stone and KP bugger. There is limited opportunity for shore fishing and wading because of drop offs and vegetation, but there is a floating fishing pier that is handicapped accessible. Spin fishermen can try Z-rays, small Kastmasters or Panther Martins with the treble replaced with a single barbless hook.
Fishing is best in the morning before the wind picks up and evenings after the wind has died down. As of mid-May, the lake was a little low, but water quality is good. A 2018 spring fish population survey found lots of rainbow trout from 14-20 inches (most in the 18-19-inch range). Largemouth bass can also be found in this lake and anglers are encouraged to harvest bass to help the trout populations. Our lake host is back for another season, so say hello and ask him for the latest fishing tricks and tips!
Big Lake – Rating:
When mid-summer fishing doldrums set in at White Mountain lakes and streams because of water quality, Big Lake typically continues to produce decent fishing action. Because of its size, productivity and visitor amenities, Big Lake is considered one of the White Mountain area’s best fishing lakes. As with most trout waters in Arizona, surface catch rates can slow as the water warms up. However, the lake rarely stratifies thanks to a relatively shallow average depth of 16 feet and frequent winds which keep the water well mixed. Even at the end of summer, pH still stays low enough to keep trout active and biting.
Bait and shore fishermen can try anything from worms to PowerBait. Fishing from a boat is generally more successful in the summer and fall than fishing from the shoreline, when the fish move into deep, cooler water. Boaters should try trolling spinners and flies. To attract cutthroat trout, use lures that resemble crayfish or their movements. Brook trout will hit flies, but also try nightcrawlers on the bottom. Spring 2018 fish population surveys found healthy numbers of rainbow and cutthroat trout, including cutthroat up to 20 inches and over 3 pounds. Big Lake Store is open for boat rentals and more!
Greer Lakes (Bunch, Tunnel, River) – Rating:
Tunnel and Bunch reservoirs both are about 10 feet deep on average. River Reservoir is the largest and deepest of the Greer lakes, with an average depth of 20 feet. Because it is the largest and deepest, and last in line of the three, River typically will have the most water, the longest into the summer. Water rights are owned by the irrigation company and the lake levels get extremely low during the summer, so fish Bunch and Tunnel in May and into June, but as July and August come, River will be the better bet.
Early in the season, cast spinners and small spoons such as Panther Martins, small Kastmasters and Z-rays. Fly-fishing with prince nymphs, hare’s ear nymphs and peacock ladies works well either by wading or in a float tube. You could also try fishing off the bottom with nightcrawlers or PowerBait. Trolling spinners, or flies such as brown or black wooly buggers, is likely to work well. Fly fishermen should try the upper end of River Reservoir where the river comes in and the lake becomes more shallow. Sometimes there’s good surface action in the evenings; stick to wet flies like wooly buggers, Montana stones and Simi Seal leeches. Try a copper Kastmaster from shore in the early summer. Fishing with nightcrawlers works well on the east side and upper end of River Reservoir.
All three lakes are stocked with rainbow trout during April, May and June while water levels are still good. Bunch and Tunnel reservoirs are full and launching boats is OK, though this will worsen throughout the summer. River Reservoir level is down about 9 feet, and did not fill, but launching a boat is currently OK. BEWARE of a curb at the end of the concrete boat ramp at River as the water level goes down.
Carnero Lake – Rating:
Fishing from the shoreline or using spinners or lures is difficult at this lake because of the weeds. The best way to fish is from a small boat, canoe or float tube. Fly fish for rainbow trout and tiger trout with wooly buggers, prince nymphs or light-colored nymphs in open areas. The water is deepest near the islands on the north end of the lake. Water levels tend to stay good through the summer, but as the water warms, the weeds increase, usually making this lake very difficult to fish by the end of summer. Spring 2018 fish population surveys found many carryover rainbow trout, most in the 15-16-inch range, but up to 18 inches. Fewer carryover tiger trout were found up to 17 inches.
Concho Lake – Rating:
Rainbow trout are stocked in March when water quality is best. To try your luck at catching trout, float a nightcrawler a couple of feet from the bottom or suspend it under a bobber. Also try trolling flies or small lures from a boat. As temperatures warm throughout the summer and water is used for irrigation, this lake becomes inhospitable to trout and much better for warmwater species. Use corn to catch common carp. Try chicken liver or worms on bottom in the evening and night for channel catfish.
Crescent Lake – Rating:
Bait and shore fishermen can try nightcrawlers and PowerBait. Rocky points on the west side are good for shore anglers when the lake is weedy. Boat anglers consistently do better at Crescent than shore fishermen. Boaters can try trolling with flies, such as wooly buggers, prince nymphs or peacock ladies, or use spinners like Panther Martins, small Mepps or Rooster Tails. Spring 2018 population surveys indicate good numbers of holdover brook trout and rainbow trout with more subcatchable sized rainbows and catchable-sized brook trout stocked in spring. In early and mid-June, fishing can be great, but as weather warms up, algae blooms decrease fish activity. This lake is full of fish, but murky water can make sight fishing and dry fly fishing difficult – use flashy lures or streamers, or bait
Fool Hollow Lake – Rating:
With a variety of fish species, Fool Hollow Lake offers something for everyone, from first-time anglers to seasoned veterans. For kids and novice anglers, nightcrawlers on the bottom or under a bobber in rocky areas are a good way to go for rainbow trout and bluegill or green sunfish. More experienced anglers can try spinnerbaits, jigs and nightcrawler rigs around underwater rocky structure, where large smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and walleye lurk. This is a great lake to catch trophy-sized walleye. Catch catfish in summer and early fall with nightcrawlers or chicken livers on the bottom. Despite low water levels this year, water quality remains good and Fool Hollow continues to be stocked with rainbow trout every other week from April to August. Boat rentals and a convenience store are open for the season!
Luna Lake – Rating:
Luna Lake is the last chance to fish in eastern Arizona before the New Mexico state line. Large, scenic, loaded visitor amenities and close to the town of Alpine, the lake offers good spring, early summer and fall fishing for locals and visitors alike. This lake holds the current state record for cutthroat trout at 6 pounds, 5 ounces. Trolling with flies works well in spring and early summer at Luna Lake. Try wooly buggers, a prince nymph, simi seal leech and other large wet flies. Nightcrawlers and PowerBait fished off the bottom also work well. Shore and boat anglers both have success at Luna. As water temperatures go up in the summer, fish in deeper, cooler water, though late summer algae blooms may slow fishing success. Spring 2018 fish population surveys found strong numbers of carryover rainbow and cutthroat trout. Fingerling and subcatchable rainbow trout are stocked in spring because this lake grows fish well.
Lyman Lake – Rating:
The largest lake in the region with great amenities and no boat motor restrictions, Lyman Lake State Park attracts anglers, as well as campers and water skiers year-round. Spring 2018 population surveys found large numbers of walleye and channel catfish throughout the lake. Is the new state record lurking in deep water? Try fishing for largemouth bass, walleye and sunfish along rocky or weedy areas of the lake. Fish for catfish with nightcrawlers or chicken livers on bottom at night. Catch carp with corn or dough baits.
Nelson Reservoir – Rating:
A long and narrow lake, Nelson follows the Nutrioso Creek Valley for nearly a mile. Fish that remain after summer stockings can grow to larger sizes, making it a popular fishing site with local anglers. This lake has been known to produce trophy sized black crappie. The lake is full and has been stocked heavily with rainbow trout. When the lake is first stocked in late spring, just about anything works. Try spinners such as Panther Martins or Z-rays, artificial flies and bait, especially nightcrawlers. As the weather warms, fish deeper with bait rigs. The south end of the lake can become difficult to fish in late summer because of weed growth. Green sunfish are plentiful and can be easily caught along the rocky shoreline with nightcrawlers.
Patterson Ponds* – Rating:
Located in St. Johns, this Community Fishing Water is stocked with rainbow trout in March and April, then bluegill as water temperatures warm and become too hot for trout. In June, July and August, channel catfish are stocked. Fish with chicken livers or nightcrawlers on bottom during the evening and night when catfish are most active. A regular fishing license or a community fishing license is required to fish here. The pond daily bag limits in community fishing waters (2 trout; 2 catfish; 5 sunfish) apply.
Rainbow Lake – Rating:
Because so much shoreline is privately owned, Rainbow is best fished from a boat. The spring and early summer are the best times to fish for trout because that’s when water quality is at its best — the weeds are down and catchable rainbow trout are being stocked. Troll for trout with Panther Martin and Rooster Tail spinners, small Kastmasters or wooly bugger flies. Anglers may have some luck fishing from shore with worms or PowerBait, particularly from the dam; casting near structure with spinnerbaits works well for largemouth bass and Northern pike. Help remove illegally introduced Northern pike by harvesting any caught. Spring 2018 surveys found large numbers of black bullheads and good channel catfish populations. Fish on the bottom with nightcrawlers or stink baits to catch catfish. Grass carp (white amur) are stocked into this lake to control weed populations; statewide daily harvest limit is 1 per day, minimum 30 inches.
Show Low Creek – Rating:
The large pool below Show Low Lake dam is stocked weekly with rainbow trout from May to September to provide local fishing opportunities when water quality at the surrounding lakes is poor. Access can be difficult, but the cool water and great fishing during the hot summer months makes it worth it for the agile angler. Try flies or small lures to draw fish from bottom or under cover.
Show Low Creek Meadows* – Rating:
This new Community Fishing Program water located at the Show Low Bluff trailhead in Show Low provides multiple opportunities for anglers and families alike. Hiking trails and a disc golf course provide extra fun all summer long! Angling is permitted from the trailhead and bridge, upstream to the Hampton Inn on Hwy 260 / White Mountain Blvd in Show Low. Rainbow trout are stocked throughout the fall, winter and spring, then bluegill and channel catfish are stocked when water temperatures are too warm for trout. Catfish are stocked in June, July and August. Bait can be used, but daily bag limits are 2 trout, 2 catfish, 1 bass (minimum size 13”) and 5 sunfish.
Show Low Lake – Rating:
With campground, bathrooms, fish cleaning stations and boat rentals, Show Low Lake is a great place to get away from it all while having amenities close by. Rainbow trout are stocked every other week from April to August, while naturally reproducing walleye, sunfish and channel catfish provide fishing opportunities the rest of the year. Fingerling channel catfish were stocked this year to increase populations in the future. Use nightcrawlers or chicken livers on bottom to target catfish. In summer, the water stratifies and lacks enough oxygen for trout at depths. Fishing for trout is best in the early morning before sunrise and in the evening just as the sun sets; use worms, PowerBait, or small lures. In June, fish above 24 feet, in July above 18 feet, and in August above 21 feet, generally, for best luck with trout.
The state record walleye was caught here weighing in at 16 pounds! Use fish imitations throughout the water column for walleye, especially during evenings and near rocky structure. 2018 spring population surveys showed nice smallmouth bass — the largest fish was more than 3 pounds and found right by the dock. It’s time for Show Low Lake to produce another state record and summer is a great time to do it!
Silver Creek – Rating:
Stocked weekly with Apache trout from the on-site hatchery, fishing at Silver Creek is good except during the hottest parts of the day. Sight fish with dry flies or small nymphs in the morning and evening. Small Kastmasters and Panther Martins or worms with bobbers can be effective in deeper pools. Silver Creek is open to harvest April 1-Sept. 30, including bait fishing, with a 6-trout daily bag limit. Because Silver Creek is a Game and Fish Commission-owned property, entry is only allowed from 30 minutes after sunrise to 30 minutes before sunset, about 5:30 a.m.-7 p.m. During catch-and-keep season in the spring and summer, only the lower 1.6 miles, downstream of the marked fence, may be fished; the upper section is closed. No unauthorized entry is ever allowed in the hatchery grounds.
West Fork-Black River – Rating:
Fishing is good for stocked Apache trout and wild brown trout. The stream is stocked weekly with Apache trout from May to mid-September. Flow levels are low and clear. Try dry flies, nymphs, small lures or PowerBait for trout. West Fork Campground is now open up to the first river crossing. When hiking upstream of the campground, West Fork Black River upstream of Hayground Creek is catch and release, artificial lure or fly only with single barbless hook. Hayground Creek is closed to all fishing.
East Fork-Black River – Rating:
Fishing is good for stocked Apache trout and wild brown trout. The stream is stocked weekly with Apache trout from May to mid-September. Flow levels are low and clear. Try dry flies, nymphs, small lures or PowerBait for trout.
Little Colorado River – Sheeps Crossing – Rating:
Fishing is good for stocked Apache trout. The stream was stocked this spring with Apache trout for the first time since 2015 and will be stocked weekly in May and June. Flow levels are low and clear. Try dry flies, small nymphs, small lures or PowerBait for trout. Due to fire closures in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, fishing and public access are only open above the Highway 273 Bridge toward Mt. Baldy Wilderness. Check with Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest for updated access information.
Little Colorado River – Greer – Rating:
Fishing is good for stocked Apache trout. The stream was stocked this spring with Apache trout for the first time since 2015 and will be stocked weekly from May to early September. Flow levels are low and clear. Try dry flies, small nymphs, small lures or PowerBait for trout. Due to fire closures in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, fishing and public access are only open in Greer. Access is not permitted upstream on the West Fork LCR to the Highway 273 Bridge. Check with Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest for updated access information.
Lee Valley Lake – Rating:
Lee Valley Lake can only be fished with artificial lures and flies. Float tubes are popular and easy to use at this lake. However, fishing success from shore is comparable to fishing from a float tube or a boat. Lee Valley holds the state record for Arctic grayling (14.65 inches). Either end of the dam is a good place to fish from shore. Fly fishing is usually the most productive technique at this lake. Wet flies to try are hare’s ear nymphs, small peacock ladies and prince nymphs in sizes 14 to 16. Just before dark, surface action is quite good with dry flies, such as small Adams, mosquito or midge larvae, and light Cahills in sizes 16 to 20. Successful spinning lures can be small Panther Martin, small Z-ray or a very small Kastmaster fished from the dam. Spring fishing is best, but can remain good into summer until large algae blooms minimize visibility and diminish water quality. For the first time since 2015, catchable size Apache trout were stocked in April; fingerling Arctic grayling were stocked in May and will make for good fishing next year.
Scott Reservoir – Rating:
The reservoir is extremely low due to an irrigation company’s scheduled maintenance on the head gate. No fish have been stocked this year. Water levels will likely not come up until spring 2019 snow melt.
Woodland Lake – Rating:
Water levels are very low this year, and as the weather warms up, stocked rainbow trout will either be fished out or struggle with temperatures. Catchable-sized rainbow trout were stocked during the spring, as well as fingerling channel catfish. Medium to large channel catfish can be caught using bait on bottom, especially at night. Small bass and sunfish may be hiding under the floating dock and can be fun with a small hook, worm and bobber.
*Community fishing lakes